Invest in services that keep people out of hospital to create a more efficient health system

Released on 24th October 2022

One of Victoria’s largest community health services, cohealth, is calling on the major parties to balance their significant pledges in new hospitals with more funding for services that keep people out of hospital in order to create a more efficient health system.

“We are anxiously awaiting election commitments that strengthen community health services, which help keep people and communities healthy.  

“The political lure of a hospital announcement can be difficult to resist, but it plays into the entrenched narrative that healthcare equals hospital-care and that’s simply not the case,” said Christopher Turner, cohealth Acting Chief Executive. 

Mr Turner stressed that it wasn’t an ‘either/or’ scenario, and that adequate funding across the spectrum of the health system was needed for it to work efficiently – in prevention, early intervention, community health responses and acute care settings. 

“We need well-funded hospitals for very unwell patients, but by adequately resourcing community-based health services we can prevent many of those people ending up in hospital,” said Mr Turner. 

“Our health system is fragmented and currently oriented towards responding when people get very sick, which is inefficient and costly for patients and the state,” he said.  

Although the State Government recently funded new Priority Primary Care Centres, cohealth says that their focus is Emergency Department diversion – dealing with once off, lower acuity conditions, not the sort of long-term care in which community health specialises. 

“We need a shift in political thinking and public understanding of what makes a good health system, and bolster the services that do the heavy lifting to keep people out of acute care settings.” 

“As we showed throughout the pandemic, community health services are expert at getting in early when people become unwell, building relationships with hard-to-reach communities and ensuring people get the care they need when they need it.” 

Community health services like cohealth work with people with complex, ongoing conditions, with a focus on people who face barriers to accessing health services, due to finances, cultural or language barriers or fear of discrimination, who often miss out on health care or receive it too late. 

cohealth says its rundown community health centre in Hoddle Street is emblematic of the neglect of community health infrastructure with leaking ceilings, uneven floors and thin walls. 

“Our 45-year-old Hoddle Street health centre is iconic, providing vital healthcare to 12,000 people every year, but it’s on its knees and needs urgent upgrading,” said Mr Turner. 

Projections suggest that cohealth’s Hoddle Street clinic will provide 18,000 more appointments p.a. by 2031, but the organisation fears without investment in the Hoddle St site, it will be facing difficult decisions about the site’s future.”  

“We want community health to be recognised – and resourced – as an integral partner in the health system, rather than an afterthought,” said Mr Turner. 



more information:  Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 


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More on cohealth: cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services. 

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